LPA determination of NPPF Severe Residual Cumulative Impact

rob shepherd made this Freedom of Information request to Brighton and Hove City Council

This request has been closed to new correspondence from the public body. Contact us if you think it ought be re-opened.

The request was refused by Brighton and Hove City Council.

Dear Brighton and Hove City Council,

... Essential Background.

NPPF S32 says "Development should only be prevented or refused on transport grounds where the residual cumulative impacts of development are severe."

The minister has recently confirmed that no guidelines will given as to what is "severe", as local planning authorities are best placed to make that determination.

This offers authorities little protection from their determination being appealed to the planning inspector or judicial review, where objectors or developers claim the impact has been incorrectly assessed.

It is assumed that B&HCC will have rigorous procedures to ensure this determination is performed properly and that an audit trail is maintained in case of challenge.

The aim of this information request is to examine how well B&HCC are measuring up to this challenge.

It is assumed that local authorities are "best placed" as there may be many local factors to take into account, so for the sake of brevity only information about a very straight forward situation will be requested, so many of the potentially conflicting variables can be ignored.

...
....

... Specific Information Request.

Considering just a major junction where there is already extensive congestion (say 120% degree of saturation, RFC 1.2, PRC = -33) with extensive delays and queues (many hundreds of cars) and no scope to mitigate the impact of further congestion on public transport ...

What specific guidelines are in place to assist planning officers in determining whether a specific residual impact is severe?

For example:

Is a 20% increase in these delays (or queues or %saturation) severe? If not, what percentage would be?

Or

What change in this (practical reserve capacity) PRC would be considered severe?

Or

What change in this RFC (ratio of flow to capacity) or Saturation % would be severe?

Would answers to the above be the same if the development was for 10 houses as it would be for 200 houses?

Would the answers be the same if there were capacity to mitigate this impact on public transport (buses)?

Specifically with respect to Planning Applucation BH2014/02589, what parts of the audit trail for the determination of severity are available for inspection, (so those considering challenges can assess the quality of the determination in advance)?

Yours faithfully,

rob shepherd

Freedom Of Information, Brighton and Hove City Council

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rob shepherd left an annotation ()

The junctions at Woodingdean and Rottingdean are notorious local bottlenecks. Long delays and queues of hundreds of cars are reported daily on local Traffic reports.

The scale of problem can be independently verified using Google's Historic Traffic data (which averages data over several months) or from TomTom's more detailed database.

Nevertheless, the local authority has not seemed concerned when Transport Assessments report these queues as 10-22 cars long and assess the impact of new housing as improbably low, using inaccurate congestion figures. It has also not reacted to other serious errors in Assessments, raising concern about the quality of checking.

These junctions are close to the county boundary and the Strategic Road Network, so they are affected by changes outside as well as inside the local authority's boundary, but the picture presented in Transport Assessments and in the City Plan is weak in assessing this.

All this has caused concern to several local residents groups, concerns that have resulted in numerous planning objections based on ignoring local congestion and pollution including the impact on public transport, petitions to the council and meetings between resident groups and council officials.

After some 18 months of trying to get to the bottom of these problems and feeling there has been little progress, a number of FoI requests have been submitted to obtain information about the traffic data and planning procedures and skills that inform our local Planning/Highways Authorities.

The aim is to establish an agreed base of facts that will make future communication more productive.

This is one of those FoI requests.

rob shepherd left an annotation ()

Brighton responded as part of a composite reply that is too lengthy to copy here. While most of the reply said theinformation did not exist, the question re an audit trail received an unsatisfactory reply (copied below) as the Planning Officer's report did not contain this information.

Unsure how to classify this response, it is unclear if is Info not Held or Refused

Specifically with respect to Planning Applucation BH2014/02589, what parts of the audit trail for the determination of severity are available for inspection, (so those considering challenges can assess the quality of the determination in advance)?

The information supplied by Transport officers with respect to the above planning application (Land South of Ovingdean Road Brighton) will be available from the Planning case file, which would be available via the council’s Development Management Team via planning.applications@brighton-hove.gov.uk , or from within the Planning case officer’s report which was considered by the Planning Committee when the decision to determine and refuse the application was made in January 2015. This is therefore exempt under Sec 21 of the FOIA, as the information is reasonably accessible by other means.